Wicklow Gaol – “The Gates of Hell”

Wicklow Gaol – “The Gates of Hell”


Wicklow Gaol’s dark history and secrets stretch back to the early 1700s, where this dark fortress was aptly dubbed “The Gates of Hell.” It served as a focal point for rebels amid the tumultuous events of the 1798 Rebellion. The gallows loom ominously above the gaol’s entrance acting as a somber testament to the many lives lost. Even today, the walls resonate with the lingering echoes of the final execution in 1843. Along the murky river, discarded bodies once fed a partially domesticated hawk, creating a very grim spectacle. The ravages of the Great Famine brought further horrors, turning Wicklow Gaol into a den of disease and despair, where death became an all too familiar presence.

Behold the captivating allure of Wicklow Gaol’s historic facade, but don’t be fooled by its beauty, for it has earned the reputation of being one of the most haunted places in Ireland.

During the tumultuous years of war and unrest, Wicklow Gaol became a haven for both oppressors and the oppressed, serving as headquarters for regiments during the war of independence and harbouring anti-treaty republicans during the civil war. Amidst the darkness there were glimmers of defiance as IRA prisoners defied their captors by slipping through the shadows to taste freedom. Wicklow Gaol closed its doors in 1924 leaving behind a history of terror and sorrow that lingers to this day, a continuous reminder of humanity’s capacity for cruelty.


Wicklow Gaol has earned a dark reputation for being the most haunted place in all of Ireland. Both visitors and staff have encountered eerie situations that defy explanation. One of the most chilling phenomena noted is the presence of a green mist that is said to linger and float through the air on the main floor.

The main floor of Wicklow Gaol stands as a chilling testament to the suffering and despair endured by countless prisoners throughout its haunting history.

On the ground floor, witnesses have observed a woman cloaked in black velvet gliding soundlessly through the halls. Her ghostly presence adding to the feeling of unease inside the gaol. The lingering spirits of two female highway women, hanged in 1792, and nine youths executed in 1820 are believed to contribute to the eerie atmosphere that surrounds Wicklow Gaol.

The ground floor is said to be very active with the presence of a woman cloaked in black velvet often making herself known to visitors.

Cell 19 seems to hold a ghostly secret, Visitors have described a figure that resembles a man occasionally seen walking out from the confines of the cell, the shadow figure reportedly steps out into the dimly lit corridor leaving witnesses bewildered and intrigued by the apparition.

One of the dark and unwelcoming cells, where many individuals were once held, serves as a reminder of the harrowing experiences endured within Wicklow Gaol.

The bars of the holding cell are said to bear witness to yet another haunting apparition. It is rumoured that a man paces back and forth before the bars, his presence serving as a reminder of the tormented souls once confined within. James Haskins, the last person executed at Wicklow Gaol in 1843 for the murder of John Pugh, is believed to continue wandering the gaol’s halls.

Countless sightings of shadows and apparitions seen roaming the halls, cells and grounds have added to Wicklow Gaol’s haunting reputation.

In the schoolroom, a little girl is said to make her presence known. Visitors have recounted being poked in the leg or having their clothing tugged on by small unseen hands. The mischievous presence of this child spirit further adds an extra layer of intrigue to the already eerie atmosphere. Furthermore, there have been many accounts of the haunting echoes of children’s cries heard throughout Wicklow Gaol.

Visitor’s clothing has been tugged by unseen hands and children’s disembodied voices are commonly heard in the school room.

The punishments inflicted at Wicklow Gaol were nothing short of harrowing, leaving behind a lingering presence of tormented souls. “Transportation” to Australia was one of the worst fates, forever exiling individuals from their loved ones with many perishing from starvation, disease, and exhaustion on the treacherous journey. The introduction of the Treadwheel, ominously dubbed “the everlasting staircase,” subjected prisoners to hard labor, often resulting in tragic accidents. Whipping and the shot drill were also commonly used, with no differentiation made between adults and children. Their suffering still resonates within the Gaol today.

The staircase leading to the torture chamber at Wicklow Gaol is undeniably haunting, the torture methods used here were among the most harrowing and horrific in history.


The ghostly encounters at Wicklow Gaol serve as a chilling reminder of the countless lives lost, the anguish endured, and the spirits forever bound within these halls. Visitors who dare to venture inside are met with an eerie ambiance that lingers long after they depart. If you would like to visit for yourself there is a range of tours available including day tours and night tours offering virtual reality experiences that give unique insights into what life would have been like inside the walls of Wicklow Gaol. As you step into the depths of this haunted prison, be prepared to confront the restless spirits that lurk in the shadows, their presence is sure to leave you with an unsettling feeling. Enter at your own risk because the spirits that reside here are restless and eager to share their eternal torment with anyone willing to visit.

Exploring the haunting remnants of the past at Wicklow Gaol where you can feel the weight of it’s dark history in every shadowy corner.

If you enjoyed reading about the hauntings and history of Wicklow Gaol you might also be interested in reading about the ghosts of the haunted Oxford castle and prison.

Thanks for reading!


About Amy

Amy is a world traveller and explorer of creepy locations. She has visited some of the most famously haunted places around the world in search of evidence of the paranormal. Follow Amy's Journey:

Check out Amy's other work over at Amy's Crypt.

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